A reconstruction of the speech given by me on Monday, January 30, 2017, at the YEG Vigilfor those who died in the shooting for Victims of Quebec Mosque Shooting*
I bring the greetings and the prayerful support of the Alberta and Northwest Conference of The United Church of Canada. We are deeply saddened by what has occurred in Quebec. We are shocked and hurt by what has happened and we stand with our Muslim brothers and sistersto offer our solidarity and support especially to the families and friends of those who have died and to those who have been injured. That which has occurred did not only happen to the Muslim community but to all of humanity. As a church, we are saddened by this event and outraged at this example of xenophobia, racism, and discrimination which has raised its head in our country.
As a Christian community, we offer to you the most powerful gift we can offer at this time. We offer to you our love!
Love for us as a Christian people is not simply an emotion. It is not that “mamby pamby” mushy sort of thing you hear on the radio. To love is for us as Christians an active choice that is made to seek the highest good for all people. Because we offer to you our love we therefore offer to you
- our shoulders to lean upon during the times when things like these occur,
- our hands to work with you as together we build a civil society,
- our feet to walk with you throughout this country to we proclaim that every human being deserves dignity irrespective of whatever religion they practice
- our voice to speak clearly, unequivocally and with crystal clarity that we will not tolerate the type of things which was done in that mosque in Quebec; that discrimination, bigotry, racism, religious intolerance and hate have no place in our country.
Actions of violence against one religion is in fact violence against all religions. The acts of violence and discrimination against our Muslim friends in Quebec are in reality violence and discrimination against all religions in all Provinces in our country. It is also an attack on humanity as a whole. We today have the opportunity, however, to start a new day in this country. This new day will dawn not simply by standing solidarity but to make the next step to get rid of ignorance. It is ignorance which keeps us divided and it is ignorance which breeds fear. The only way to get rid of ignorance is to replace it with knowledge.
When the vigils of support are over, and the speeches have ended, we urge members of our society to begin a process of getting to know about each other. Let it not be that what we know about our Muslim brothers and sisters is simply from what we read in the media (as much as I respect the media) or from the odd reference from our favorite television show. Let us start speaking with each other and educate ourselves about each other. Let us start talking with each other in order to educate ourselves about each other. The only way that we remove ignorance is by replacing it with factual knowledge. As such we urge each one of us to get to know the Muslim, the Hindu, the Jew, the Sikh and the Indigenous person your community. Learn for yourself and allow that information to allow you to know that we are all human beings created in the image of God.
We pray peace upon you all. The peace that we will leave from this place resolved to make a new day in this country, A new day where will replace ignorance, fear and cowardice with knowledge, love and respect.